Recently, there has been a lot of “buzz” about Plasma and other next-generation flat-panel high definition televisions. Some models have been given fairly high marks by several reviewers. Many of these sets have been excellent at displaying HDTV images in different ways, and (for the most part) many are relatively affordable. Some models today use non-CRT MicroDisplay technologies like DLP, 3LCD, HD-ILA, SXRD, or LCoS to display stunning, high-definition visual images. Personally, I have always been a fan of MicroDisplays. Within the various MicroDisplay technologies, DLP (Digital Light Processing) with chips by Texas Instruments (TI), is a leading innovator today.
Mitsubishi, which has always been a strong supporter of DLP technology since its inception, now offers a complete line of MicroDisplay rear projection HDTVs with 1080p screen resolutions. The company has produced the best example I’ve seen of a MicroDisplay DLP HDTV with their stunning WD-57831. This model is part of their 831 Diamond Series of rear projection DLP HDTVs, which includes 57-inch, 65-inch, and 73-inch models. I have always been a fan of Mitsubishi TVs, and I have found that this company has consistently produced all kinds of quality televisions over the years. Mitsubishi was the inventor of the large-screen TV category years ago.
Features and Design
Mitsubishi’s WD-57831 is a 57W widescreen 16:9 HDTV, designed to produce exceptional images from all (both standard and high definition) video sources. The WD-57831 is certainly a crowd pleaser! If ever a TV was designed for watching high definition programming (standard definition images aren’t too shabby either), enjoying Home Theater, viewing movies, or watching stills from your digital camera, this is the one! Happily, it’s not just the size of the screen that impresses, but the images displayed on it. The set includes dual antenna RF inputs, two rear A/V/S-Video inputs, three HD-level component video inputs, two HDMI w/HDCP inputs, two IEEE 1394, one A/V/S-Video, one component video, and RF outputs. Convenience features include twin-tuner PIP (picture-in-picture) and TV Guide On Screen (that worked flawlessly with my local cable system, Cablevision).
Mitsubishi’s WD-57831 is a striking example of a fully-integrated HDTV with an ATSC (over-the-air) HD tuner, Cable HD QAM tuner, and a standard definition NTSC tuner. This model is also Digital Cable Ready, featuring a CableCARD slot. What this means is that if your cable company offers CableCARDs, the TV will allow you to receive all programming provided by the cable company (including HD) without a cable box. What you can’t do with CableCARD is buy programming or movies via your remote. If you utilize your cable company’s video-on-demand (VOD) or pay-per-view (PPV) services, you might be better off using a cable HD set-top box that would also include an integrated DVR (Digital Video Recorder). Whatever your preference is, this Mitsubishi set offers both possibilities.
Mitsubishi has added several color enhancement features with the 831 series including Tru1080p processing and 4D Video Noise Reduction. All Mitsubishi 1080p DLP HDTVs process 1920 x 1080p DLP inputs without any down-conversion. What this does is deliver the full bandwidth of the incoming signal directly to the screen for a true 2 million pixel image. Mitsubishi’s 4D Video Noise Reduction further adds an extra dimension to picture performance by using advanced algorithms to filter video noise more efficiently, yielding clean, crisp images. It upgrades and converts all incoming signals to 1080i (including non-HD signals of 480i or 480p) to achieve optimum picture quality from both analog and HD sources. Since high definition video is shot in 1080p, the WD-57831 presents those images as they were intended to be seen, giving those images the true look and feel of 35mm and 70mm film.
Audio power is rated 10-watts per channel from twin bottom-mounted speakers without any further audio enhancements. The set does, however, include simulated stereo and artificial surround sound settings. To receive the complete surround sound effect, though, it is highly suggested to include a separate AV Receiver with high-quality speakers. For this evaluation, I used a Pioneer Elite VSX-84TXSi AV Receiver with six 700 Series B&W loudspeakers. Video sources included the Oppo Digital DV-981HD Universal DVD player, Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD player, and the Sony PlayStation 3 that features an integrated Blu-ray Disc player. All HDMI switching was accomplished via the Pioneer Elite receiver and utilized one HDMI input on the back of the Mitsubishi TV, which allowed for the full enjoyment of HD DVD, Blu-ray, and PS3 HD games.
Mitsubishi has also included an average 45-button, illuminated, universal remote that will control the TV, a VCR, Cable/SAT box, DVD player, and Audio Component via a top-mounted slider. The remote is dark gray. As you press any key, it illuminates, which is a smart idea for easy recognition in a darkened room. To access video inputs, simply press the INPUT button for the appropriate video source (I left the video input on HDMI 1 for ease of use, though).
Front A/V/S-Video jacks and one IEEE 1394 input with DV Decoder are located under a hidden flap in the center of the set. These inputs are included for the easy attachment of a camcorder or other external video source. The set also includes a memory card reader that accepts several types of cards including SmartMedia, CompactFlash, MicroDrive, MultiMediaCard (MMC), SD, MemoryStick, and MemoryStick PRO.
The WD-57831 is housed in a beautiful piano-black cabinet. An optional matching (and quite attractive, I might add) base is available that features bottom storage on two shelves for all of your gear. What is surprising about the base is that it comes fully assembled, which is a godsend and perfectly complements the WD-57831.
Image Courtesy of Mitsubishi
Testing and Use
Connection was easy and straightforward. Since I currently have several video sources, all were attached via HDMI to the Pioneer Elite receiver, and then output via HDMI into the TV. The main HD source component was EchoStar’s ViP 622 HD DVR, which is DISH Network’s second-generation high-definition satellite box that includes a built-in DVR. The HDMI connection was employed. As previously noted, an upconverting DVD player, along with Toshiba’s HD DVD player and Sony’s PS3, were also employed for exemplary standard-definition and high-definition images. All worked flawlessly, passing 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p HD signals. As signals are fed into the WD-57831, it briefly displays the incoming screen resolution in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
To calibrate this DLP set for optimal picture playback, I used a special DVD entitled Digital Video Essentials, by Joe Kane Productions. This special disc allows you to correctly set contrast, brightness, black levels, color, sharpness, and grayscale, among other video settings. It also educates you about different signals received and helps set up your audio system (if need be). Setup was relatively easy, but you have to remember that aspect ratio and image quality for this DTV is controlled by the source. The onscreen menus are clear and concise.
Image Courtesy of Mitsubishi
Using the Dish Network ViP622 as my HD Satellite Receiver in-place, the displayed images on the WD-57831 produced realistic color with unprecedented picture detail and resolution free from any perceived artifacts. Picture quality is nothing short of spectacular for this exceptional Mitsubishi set! I had thought that I had seen excellent HD images in the past from several DLP sets from other manufacturers. Well, I was wrong. Both broadcast and satellite HDTV images were simply stunning! They were among the best that this reviewer has seen to date. I am at a loss to find negative things to say about picture quality. In prolonged viewings of numerous Prime Time TV shows such as Lost (the best looking HD show on television) and C.S.I.: Miami, the HD images that were received via rooftop antenna and satellite dish came in perfectly clear and crisp without any signal degradation or loss of detail in 720p (ABC-HD and FOX-HD) and 1080i (CBS-HD and Dish Network HD, now with over 30 HD channels!).
The colors displayed on the WD-57831 were truly vibrant and very life-like, giving you the feeling that “you are there.” It cannot be understated! It’s almost like watching the world through a clear pane of glass. I want to point out that HD-Net, and DiscoveryHD in particular, produced some of the most compelling HD images that can be viewed. Test grids from Digital Video Essentials and Silicon Optix’s HQV Benchmark DVD Ver.1.4 certainly confirmed what my eyes were telling me: image clarity was right on the mark. Color bars, for example, were in perfect alignment with no coloring bleeding between colors. Also, the lines between colors were straight and true with no jagged edges. Grayscale transformed itself from light to dark seamlessly. Test patterns clearly re-affirmed image clarity with image resolution! Also, using THX’s video optimizer, you could certainly delineate white balance from the eight different squares.
High definition images seem to produce a truly life-like 3D effect on the viewer, as HD adds a considerable amount of depth — not to mention realism — to any image. The images pop right off the screen. This is especially true for DiscoveryHD Theater, which a friend of mine has dubbed “the bug channel.” Insects, and all of nature, never looked so realistic. Of course, sporting events in HD are the “crème de la crème” of HD images, as they need to be seen to be fully appreciated. For example, you can easily count the blades of grass or Astro Turf from several late season football games (I can’t believe that the NY Jets and NY Giants have made the playoffs!) or discern the rubble on asphalt on NBC-HD’s NASCAR racing. Unbelievable! Watching a football game made me feel that I was sitting right on the fifty-yard line. Standard definition NTSC signals looked at good as they could get at 480p from EchoStar, especially the SciFi Channel’s Battlestar Gallactica. Of course, reruns of this show in HD on Universal’s HD channel look nothing short of spectacular!
Setup and Use Cont’d
Using this set as a video monitor for a DVD player (with the Oppo Digital DV-981HD as a reference progressive scan universal DVD player, featuring HDMI upconversion capability), the projected images were just as compelling as if you were watching the movies at your local cinema — only better! Here, you’re watching movies as they are meant to be seen: in widescreen and digital video via HDMI! Watching films like The Sound of Music (40th Anniversary), Spiderman 2, The Star Wars Trilogy, Beauty and the Beast (Special Edition), Superman Returns, or even Mannheim Steamroller, for example, portrayed a display device that could easily distinguish subtle color shading and hue, reproducing colors as accurately and realistically as possible. Black levels, which are the Achilles’ heel of all MicroDisplay sets, was better than other HD sets previously viewed. While DVDs never looked better, it’s really the HD images displayed from EchoStar satellite, over-the-air antenna, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc that produced the most stunning, startling, and most compelling images ever seen by this reviewer in a production sample display device.
Of course, watching and listening to movies in standard definition is o.k., but to get the real benefits of an HD set, you have to watch content in high def. Initially, I used the Toshiba HD-XA1 (their first step-up HD DVD player with a screen resolution of 1080i, previously reviewed by me). Clearly, there are certain movies that were meant to be seen and heard in HD DVD. Current offerings include King Kong, Mission Impossible III, Miami Vice: Unrated Director’s Edition, and The Polar Express, among other HD DVD titles viewed. One title in particular shows off any high definition format; that film is John Ford’s The Searchers (also available on Blu-ray). It makes you believe that you can reach out and touch Monument Valley. It’s simply unbelievable,and a sight not to be missed. Miami Vice, which was shot in HD, looked especially gritty and realistic also.
While I had initially viewed Samsung’s first BD offering late last summer (2006), which I found unacceptable, I turned to Sony’s recently released PlayStation 3 as a terrific source for both next-generation video games in high-definition and Blu-ray movies in screen resolutions up to 1080p. Video games have never looked so compelling, especially RESISTANCE: FALL OF MAN in 720p, and HD Gran Turismo in 1080p. In HD Gran Turismo, for example, I thought that I was back in the Alps near the Eiger Mountain as I was racing. I also believe that this is the first video game in 1080p. Numerous Blu-ray movies have been watched including The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, X: The Last Stand, Annapolis, and UNDERWORLD Evolution, to name a few titles. This last title mentioned, however, was chosen because it is especially taxing on a DLP set because there are so many dark scenes throughout the entire movie. Needless to say, the gradations of gray-to-black made the texture of the film appear very crisp and precise, and different shades of black were easily discernable. Of course, standard definition DVDs also looked exceptional when played back on the PS3 as well.
In conclusion, Mitsubishi’s WD-57831, combined with several high-definition sources, produced and reproduced the some of the best images from regular over-the-air HD, satellite, satellite HD, and high-definition optical disc signals possible! This is a set that has to be seen in all its glory to be fully appreciated. In many ways, it’s superior to its competitors in both design and function. Clearly, extended viewings are recommended! Here is a television with the capability of showing each type of signal in the best possible way. While it’s somewhat pricey, it produces some of the best images on the planet! And, as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”
Since the WD-57831 is a HDTV with all of the right connectors (including HDMI), you’re set for many years to come of extended viewings. So, get comfortable. You’ll be receiving and watching the most pristine and compelling HDTV signals on this or any other planet! Clearly, it’s your new window into the world, and just the ticket for watching your favorite TV shows in HD and viewing your growing DVD collection. Pass me the popcorn!